Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mindef says RM9b patrol ship bill to be paid over two Malaysia Plans

Pakatan MPs (left to right) Dr Dzulkefly, Pua and Saifuddin outside the Mindef headquarters in Kuala Lumpur

The government said today that the price tag for six naval patrol ships appeared to rise from RM6 billion to RM9 billion as the cost is split into two Malaysia Plans (RMK).

Both Barisan Nasional (BN) backbenchers and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs told reporters after meeting top defence ministry (Mindef) officials this afternoon that the RM6 billion figure mentioned by Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in Parliament last year was “the ceiling for RMK10” which runs from 2011-2015.

“Another RM3 billion is under RMK11 as such huge expenditure needs to be spread out. But the price has always been RM9 billion since the navy first requested the six littoral combatant ships (LCS) in 2008.

“So the minister (Zahid) was right and wrong,” said BN backbenchers vice chief Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

DAP publicity chief Tony Pua said that Mindef secretary general Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Ahmad explained “the minister did not answer wrongly in Parliament, just not in full.”

“Whether that is acceptable, I leave it to the public to decide,” the Petaling Jaya Utara MP told reporters.

The six LCS was first reported to cost RM6 billion when first announced in March. However, supplier Boustead Holdings said in a filing to Bursa Malaysia last month that the deal would be worth RM9 billion in total.

This led to the opposition questioning how the price tag for the ships could jump by 50 per cent in the space of eight months.

The federal opposition has repeatedly accused the government of wanting to keep the facts hidden in over RM16 billion in defence deals over the past three years as well as the controversial RM7 billion Scorpene submarine purchase linked to the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shariibuu in 2006.

Pua, PKR secretary general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution and PAS research chief Dzulkefly Ahmad had met Zahid, chiefs of the airforce, army and navy as well as four other BN backbenchers besides Abdul Rahman including Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.

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